Peter Barakan

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Peter Barakan
Born (1951-08-20) 20 August 1951 (age 72)
EducationSOAS, University of London
Years active1984–present
SpouseMayumi Yoshida
FamilyShane Fontayne (brother)
Musical career

Peter Barakan (born 20 August 1951, in London, England) is an English-born DJ, freelance broadcaster, and an author of books on music and English language education. He is best known as the presenter of Begin Japanology and Japanology Plus on NHK World.[1][2] In Japan, he is known as the radio host of "Barakan Beat" on InterFM,[3] "Weekend Sunshine" on NHK FM,[4] and Lifestyle Museum on Tokyo FM.[5] Barakan also curates "Live Magic!", presented by CreativeMan Productions, Tower Records, and InterFM. It is a two-day festival intent on promoting obscure western artists to a wider Japanese audience.[6]

Early life[edit]

Peter Barakan was born in London, England to an Anglo-Burmese mother and a Jewish father of Polish ancestry, and raised with his younger brother, musician Shane Fontayne.[1][7] After attending junior high school, he graduated from SOAS, University of London.


Early career (1974–1988)[edit]

Barakan moved to Tokyo, Japan in early 1974, after accepting a job offer as a clerk at a music publishing company in Japan.[1] In the early 80's, after his departure as a clerk, Barakan began contributing to magazines and hosting a radio show as a freelancer,[8] as well as writing lyrics and handling international marketing for the Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra.[9][10] In October 1988, with his start as host of the late-night weekly TBS program, “CBS Document”[11](a Japanese edition of 60 Minutes),[12] Barakan’s popularity grew, especially among Japanese eager to study English and Americans starved for broadcasts from their home country.[9]

Radio (1980–present)[edit]

Barakan was the host for a radio show in Roppongi for approximately 9 years.[8] Starting in 1996, he was a host for 3-hour slot named "Barakan Morning " on InterFM radio which ended in 2011.[13][14]

He is currently hosting "Barakan Beat", a live show on InterFM,[3] "Weekend Sunshine", a freestyle program on NHK FM,[4] and Lifestyle Museum, 30-minute weekly interview programme on Tokyo FM.[5]

Television (2003–present)[edit]

Barakan’s broadcast experience eventually led him to NHK’s Japanology in 2003, where he is more well known internationally for exploring aspects of traditional and contemporary Japan, including interviews with experts in various fields. As the show progressed, he eventually became the sole presenter where he is more able to express his creative freedoms.[1]

He also acts as a presenter alongside his Japanese co-host for Offbeat & Jazz, a monthly show on satellite broadcaster WOWOW, featuring live performances by mainly jazz artists.[15]

Social issues[edit]

During the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Barakan was prevented from playing a nuclear protest song, because it could "create 'fuhyou higai', which means 'damage from rumors'".[16]

Similarly, in 2014, Barakan was pressured by two broadcast stations (other than InterFM) to steer clear of commenting on nuclear power issues.[17]

In 2012, he led a U.N. sponsored multi-city mayoral panel discussion on community rebuilding following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Barakan is married to Mayumi Yoshida, and has a son and a daughter.[9][19]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 In A Forest of Feathers Various Video Short
1984 YMO Propaganda Soundtrack
1983 Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence Prisoner (uncredited)
2005 The Old Crocodile Narrator (English version) Short


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Yellow Magic Orchestra Live at NHK Soundtrack TV movie
2014 Japanology Plus Self / Presenter TV series documentary
2008 Begin Japanology
2003 Weekend Japanology
2009 CBS Document
2019 The Best Hit USA TV series
2015 Morning Cross
2010 Schola: Sakamoto Ryûichi ongaku no gakkô
2009 The Golden Hour
2004 Eigo de shabera-night


  • Taking Stock (2020)
  • 新版魂(ソウル)のゆくえ (2019)
  • Cotton Fields (2020)
  • ロックの英詞を読む―世界を変える歌 (2016)
  • ピーター・バラカンのわが青春のサウンドトラック (2013)
  • ピーター・バラカン音楽日記 (2011)
  • ラジオのこちら側で (2013)
  • ぼくが愛するロック名盤240 (1998)
  • ジャズ・ロックのおかげです (1994)
  • 200CD ピーター・バラカン選 ブラック・ミュージック (2009)
  • ピーター・バラカンのわが青春のサウンドトラック (2009)
  • 猿はマンキ お金はマニ (2009)
  • 魂(ソウル)のゆくえ (2008)
  • ロックの英詞を読む (2003)
  • Love Songs – A Kiss Is Just A Kiss (1993)
  • ミュージック捜査線 (1993)
  • 魂(ソウル)のゆくえ (1989; republished in 2008)


  1. ^ a b c d "Interview: "Japanology" Host Peter Barakan—Japan's Accidental Ambassador". Cinema Escapist. 2020-05-31. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  2. ^ "BEGIN Japanology". NHK World TV. 7 September 2012. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Barakan Beat". Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b "番組情報". NHK-FM. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Tokyo Midtown presents The Lifestyle MUSEUM - TOKYO FM Podcasting". Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  6. ^ Hadfield, James (2015-10-18). "Radio personality Peter Barakan brings the world to Tokyo for Live Magic!". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  7. ^ "Tokyo DJ Peter Barakan on His 45-Year Career, Why He Quit Twitter, and Sharing Music Taste with Bowie". Tokyo Weekender. 2020-03-12. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  8. ^ a b "74 Peter Barakan(Broadcaster)". ROPPONGI MIRAI KAIGI -In the city that connects the people and the Art Design-. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  9. ^ a b c Matsutani, Minoru (17 February 2009). "Job taken on a whim leads to 35 years in Tokyo". The Japan Times Online.
  10. ^ "Peter Barakan on". Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Peter Barakan I want to provide the listener with a selection of songs to face life. | SIGMA meets SEEKERS". SEIN | SIGMA. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  12. ^ Betros, Chris. "IN PERSON - Voice of reason". Metropolis Tokyo: Issue 528. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  13. ^ "Barakan Morning". InterFM 76.1 FM. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Are You Ready to Stage a Media Coup?". Media Techtonics. 13 August 2010.
  15. ^ "オフビート&JAZZ|音楽|WOWOWオンライン". WOWOW (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  16. ^ Grunebaum, Dan (1 July 2011). "Japan's new wave of protest songs; YouTube is the medium when artists speak out against nuclear power". International Herald Tribune (HighBeam Research). Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  17. ^ Otake, Tomoko (2014-01-22). "Barakan says broadcasters told him to avoid nuclear issues till after poll". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  18. ^ "City Leaders discuss Tohoku's future after tsunami". U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) (HighBeam Research). States News Service. 24 May 2012. Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Peter Barakan". IMDb. Retrieved 2021-07-11.

External links[edit]